MPs warn against Heathrow Airport expansion: ‘Put the planet first’
A London MP has warned that any move to expand Heathrow Airport would present “a serious health issue” for her constituents, as she called for the Government to block the project.
Fleur Anderson, the Labour MP for Putney, led a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, in which she said the scheme would subject Londoners to unacceptable levels of noise and air pollution.
The airport has said the project would create jobs, boost UK exports, and bring lower airfares.
In a message to the airport’s incoming chief executive, Ms Anderson said: “There is no version of an expanded Heathrow which is compatible with climate targets.
“There is no version of an expanded Heathrow that does not reduce the quality of the lives of 650,000 people in my constituency and beyond, who live under the flight path.
“And there is no version of an expanded Heathrow that does not make the air our children breathe even more polluted.
“I implore you, put the quality of life and the planet first, and the profits of your shareholders second.”
The expansion plans had been put on ice after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. But, outgoing CEO John Holland-Kaye believes that the pandemic showed “just how important it is” for a third runway to be built to increase the facility’s capacity and strength.
He told The Independent: “We are still committed to expansion. We’ve already started some of the preliminary work on expansion, now that we have started to have the bandwidth to do that. We’ll be saying more about our plans with that later this year.”
Speaking at Wednesday’s debate, Munira Wilson, Lib Dem MP for Twickenham, said her party wanted to see “a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow”, and that the proposal to expand the airport was “dead in the water, on every possible front”.
Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell later said a third runway would mean some 4,000 properties in his Hayes and Harlington constituency having to be demolished or rendered unlivable by noise or air pollution.
The Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington added: “That’s 10,000 people being forced out of their homes. It means three schools, it means churches, the gurdwara, it means a number of community centres, it means our open spaces - the demolition of a whole community…
“This will be the iconic battleground on climate change for Europe - if the Government tries to move ahead.”
Jim Shannon, the Democratic Unionist Party MP for Strangford, was the sole voice in favour of expansion, saying it was “an incredible opportunity to improve connectivity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in relation to tourism, trade and air passenger duty”.
Responding on behalf of the Government was Jesse Norman, the Minister of State for Decarbonisation and Technology, who said: “The Government continues to support airport growth where it is justified, and expansion of any airport in England must meet our strict climate change obligations to be able to proceed.
“The Government’s approach to sustainable aviation growth is supported by analysis that shows that the country can achieve net zero emissions by 2050 without the need to intervene directly to limit aviation growth.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: "Heathrow expansion is critical for the UK’s future economic success.
“It will create jobs, boost Britain’s exports and drive competition and choice to lower airfares for passengers. What’s more, it will only be delivered within strict environmental limits.
“We are currently conducting an internal review of the project and will look to provide an update later this year.”